Friday 3:00pm-4:00pm TSU - Humphries: 118
Presenters will hang their posters by 8:30am (the hall will be open to presenters at 8:00am), and the Poster Hall will be open throughout the day.
Broadening Participation: Attracting students and supporting students and teachers
The Sustainability Scholars Program: Early Successes from the Pilot Year
Hannah Scherer, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ
Kayla Harris, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ
Peter Ziegler, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ
Curtis Friedel, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ
Donna Westfall-Rudd, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ
Tiffany Drape, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ
The Sustainability Scholars Program is a structured undergraduate academic experience focused on issues of sustainability in the food, agricultural, natural resources and/or human sciences (FANH). Experiential learning opportunities, such as study abroad, internships, undergraduate research, and service learning, are utilized as a way to develop student workplace skills, FANH career awareness, and leadership abilities. The goal of this project is to create an interdisciplinary program as a means to build institutional capacity to: recruit and retain underserved populations into FAHN programs; support experiential learning opportunities for students interested in FAHN fields of study; and develop training for faculty to improve advising and mentoring skills. The program targets first-generation and underrepresented minority undergraduate students and pairs them with faculty who serve as their mentors. The pilot year of the project engaged eight faculty mentors from multiple disciplines across campus and nine student participants who completed sustainability-related projects. We established a Sustainability Scholars Working Group, a new Sustainability Scholars Capstone Seminar course, and a revised Exploring Citizen Leadership course. To provide guidance for development of a new Sustainability Scholars Faculty Mentor Community of Practice, we conducted open-ended interviews with a purposeful sample of faculty who were experienced in working with underrepresented minority (URM) students in laboratory settings. Our analysis revealed that few study participants take time to learn about the cultures of students who might have backgrounds different from theirs or encourage URM students to have multiple mentors. Through participating in the program, students developed new critical thinking skills, the ability to apply new understandings about sustainability to their academic disciplines, and leadership capacity in the areas of sustainability and stewardship. This project was supported by the Higher Education Challenge (HEC) Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, Grant #2017-70003-26379.
Designing Successful Student Field Experiences: Resources and Strategies
Mitchell Bender-Awalt, Carleton College
Dave Mogk, Montana State University-Bozeman
John McDaris, Carleton College
Field experiences provide impactful learning and growth opportunities for students in STEM and allied fields. There are many benefits ascribed to instruction in the field, including opportunities for learning in the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains; exploration at varied spatio-temporal scales; development of scientific thinking skills and habits of mind; and recruitment and retention of students. Despite these perceived benefits, field experiences can also present obstacles for students. Operating in the field frequently requires the ability to move in difficult terrain, extended periods separate from family and employment, and comfort living in unfamiliar places. These barriers can be difficult or impossible for students to overcome. In addition, recent work has also documented systemic issues of harassment and discrimination in field settings. Educators teaching in the field are expected to address challenges of logistics, safety, accessibility, inclusion, and ethics in addition to pedagogy when designing these experiences. It is important that educators and program administrators have access to robust materials and guidance to provide their students with safe, accessible, positive, and impactful field learning opportunities. The Science Education Resource Center (SERC) provides access to a wide variety of resources developed by NSF-funded projects focused on improving field experiences, such as field-based pedagogies from On the Cutting Edge, access and inclusion resources from SAGE 2YC, and advice on writing codes of conduct from ADVANCEGeo. To assist educators in finding materials and developing successful field experiences, SERC is collecting and organizing high-quality sources for field education strategies, guidance, and resources. The collection acts as a springboard to information addressing important topics in field education, including logistics and safety in off-campus environments, accessibility and inclusion, ethical field conduct, and field-based pedagogy. The collection is designed to be an asset for all educators in STEM and related disciplines teaching outside of the classroom.
Building Diverse and Integrative STEM Continua Using Socio-Environmental Systems In and Out of Neighborhoods (DISCUSSION)
DISCUSSION is a collaboration between two major HBCUs located 50 miles apart NC (NC A&T) and North Carolina Central University (NCCU). This pilot communicates the words and needs for families who seek avenues for their children to be included on the competitive trajectory for STEM careers. Our goal is to help under-served neighborhoods cross organizational boundaries in the STEM enterprise by using the food-energy-water nexus as a teaching module. This pilot is maturating into a high-performance core of stakeholder partners including universities, civic organizations, and school systems. DISCUSSION provides mid-scale infrastructure to bridge the gaps between thresholds using affordable programming. Data collection methods include tracing instruments to measure social cognitive outcomes, such as career interests, self-efficacy, and outcome expectancies of student growth and sense of belonging in STEM fields. We are reaching families and students who are geographically in proximity of excellent institutions of higher education but are yet marginalized by lack of exposure to early system thinking learning opportunities. The core concept is deployment of culturally relevant socio-environmental frameworks using twenty- first- century STEM system thinking skills. The activities are designed to secure a foundation for scaling from single institution and network entities to multiple institutions and network entities. Other US regions can adapt our ideas to empower teachers with new approaches to: (1) increase science learning at minimal cost, (2) link university expertise to public school systems and (3) strengthen the education foundation necessary for economic development and prosperity. DISCUSSION is powerful model for helping to realize the benefits of shared interests in STEM excellence, equal opportunity, diversity and inclusion.
The Center for Diverse Leadership in Science and Opportunities for a Consortium Towards Equity and Justice
Aradhna Tripati, University of California-Los Angeles
To cultivate increased diversity in the geosciences and environmental sciences, we are developing a program to recruit and support more diverse students, and connect them with better-trained faculty. Our goals are to build cultural awareness skills, support transformation of individuals as agents of change while mentoring and networking them, help build a STEM culture of inclusion and outreach, and to improve diversity and retention rates. In order to achieve our goals, we are developing an innovative and inter-connected integration of elements that leverages existing resources, framing, incentivizing, and targeting them to reach people who would likely otherwise not access them, in a way to optimize learning gains. This will allow us to increase and support a diverse pool of undergraduate and graduate students and postdoctoral researchers, while training the faculty they interact with to be more inclusive and effective teachers and mentors.
Investigating career pathways of undergraduates interested in seismology/geophysics: Longitudinal tracking of IRIS undergraduate internship alumni (1998 – 2018)
Michael Hubenthal, EarthScope
Over the last 20 years, the IRIS Undergraduate Internship Program has facilitated opportunities for 216 undergraduates to conduct seismological research and present their results at professional conferences. To measure the program's goal of encouraging more students, representing a more diverse population, to choose careers in Earth science, an outcome evaluation was conducted. Data was collected through an online survey consisting of 21 open and closed-ended items. The response rate for the survey was 87.0%. A supplemental, qualitative study probing the experiences, graduate school decisions, awareness of career possibilities, and perceived barriers of five alumni is currently underway. Key findings include the following. - 76.8% of respondents, who had completed their undergraduate degrees and are enrolled as a graduate student or employed fulltime, are doing so in the geosciences. - Significant differences exist between academic pathways of racial and ethnic groups. For example, 14.5% of underrepresented minority (URM) respondents pursed a PhD directly after their bachelor's degree, compared to 37.2% of majority, and 54.5% of Asian respondents. - Employment sectors of alumni differ by race and ethnicity, as well as gender. For example, URM respondents are primarily employed the Oil and Gas sector (33.3%); a rate double that of majority respondents. - Increases in knowledge and experience, and interest in the research process and the field of geophysics broadly were the most commonly identified as influences on alumni career pathways. The development of a social network within the geophysics community was also an important influence. This suggests a need for interventions to reduce or minimize differences in both academic pathways and employment sectors between populations. Interventions may include increasing participant awareness of pathway options via aggregate information from the alumni survey, developing academic and career vignettes of alumni, or other ideas derived from the qualitative study.
Experiential learning in Costa Rica: A Tale of Two Honors Programs
Barbra Sobhani, University of Colorado at Boulder
Meredith Hibit, Red Rocks Community College
Melanie Brandt, Colorado School of Mines
Providing experiential learning opportunities for Honors students is an essential part of programming and can be an excellent tool to strengthen partnerships between two and four year transfer institutions. Trefny Honors at Red Rocks Community College and Thorson Honors at Colorado School of Mines collaborated through study abroad for the first time, bringing together Honors students from both programs to explore conservation and sustainability in Costa Rica. This experience allowed students to see wildlife, culture and reflection through different lenses, while learning to appreciate and understand the diversity represented amongst the students. Much of the trip was spent off the grid at Campanario Biological Station on the Osa peninsula, Costa Rica. Students explored marine and rainforest ecology, biodiversity, sustainable living, animal population studies, Spanish language immersion and the societal challenges of conservation. The partnership between the two schools introduced additional experiential learning opportunities for both faculty and students, as a wide range of majors and life experiences was represented. This shared experience is the groundwork for future collaborations that will strengthen the transfer pathway for Honors students as they move from RRCC to Mines.
Students' socio-hydrological reasoning and water literacy in an undergraduate water course
Destini Petitt, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
David Owens, Georgia Southern University
Diane Lally, University of Nebraska at Lincoln
Cory Forbes, The University of Texas at Arlington
In a world that is becoming increasingly globalized and resource-limited, it is essential to support students' development of sophisticated reasoning skills when dealing with complex Earth systems. To address this need, we developed, implemented, and studied an introductory, interdisciplinary, 1-semester undergraduate course focused on socio-hydrologic systems. Here, we present results investigating undergraduate students' (n=92) socio-hydrological reasoning through the use of a pre-/post-course concept inventory and course assignment grounded in a real-world, regionally-relevant water quality issue. We found students' knowledge of core hydrology concepts increased significantly over the semester. Additionally, analysis of students' responses to a 5-item Quantitative Analysis of Socio-Scientific Reasoning (QuASSR) indicated a wide range of sophistication across and within the dimensions of SSR. A deductive analysis included the evaluation of students' responses to the QuASSR items using a rubric to evaluate the sophistication for each dimension of SSR (i.e., complexity, inquiry, perspective-taking, skepticism, and the affordances of science). Seventy-three % of students earned the maximum score for their perspective-taking responses by elaborating on two perspectives that might be taken by scenario stakeholders (ie: farmers and urban residents), whereas nearly half of students' skepticism responses failed to include reasoning as to how nitrate levels from the same site might be reported differently by scientists hired by different stakeholder groups. An inductive, thematic analysis was also employed to provide a richer account of the students' SSR. Students' offered a variety of ways that science could contribute to the resolution of this SSI, including by investigating problems, developing solutions, monitoring sites, and communicating knowledge. Here we provide evidence that using effective geoscience education approaches (ie: teaching content knowledge and overcoming misconceptions) coupled with socio-hydrological issues provide students with a productive context in which to develop water literacy.
Active Engagement in Natural Disasters Related Courses
When it comes to teaching about natural disasters, the continuous occurrence of new events make course preparation challenging. I have developed a method to stay up to date with new events in large section classes focused on natural disasters. This method provides a customized course structure and also includes active engagement from students. A customized course structure, includes week long modules for each type of natural disaster and provide the ability to focus on an ongoing event. When it comes to staying up to date with new and recent events in the course, the focus is put on students. Students are divided in groups of 5-8 students and present a recent event including the geologic data and a hypothesis on how the costs and casualties could have been reduced. This course structure also allows for in class group activities.
Nanotechnology in STEM: Incorporating nanotechnology across the geoscience curriculum
Monica Bruckner, Carleton College
Dave Mogk, Montana State University-Bozeman
Michael Hochella Jr., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ
James Ranville, Colorado School of Mines
Kristin O'Connell, Carleton College
Kathryn Sheriff, Mercer University
Nanoscience is largely underrepresented in Geoscience research and is almost completely absent in the Geoscience curriculum. However, nanoparticles contribute substantially to energetics and mass balance in all parts of the Earth system, and physical and chemical properties (and processes) of materials are size dependent and are fundamentally different on the nanoscale compared to the mesoscale. The Teaching Nanotechnology Across the Undergraduate STEM Curriculum project introduces nanoscience as a 'new kind of science' that is applicable to all courses in the Geoscience curriculum. Nanotechnology is also a major economic driver with implications for societal, economic, human health, and environmental applications, and thus, it is important to teach about nanoscience to demonstrate potential career paths and to prepare students for the future workforce. Geoscience as a discipline cannot afford to not participate in the nanoscience revolution. Three international workshops were convened to discover, aggregate, and organize information and resources about nanoscience to disseminate through the project website. This site provides information about the fundamental concepts of nanoscience, related advice on "what," "why," and "how" to teach about nanoscience, a "primer" on nanoscience methods, and ethical issues raised by nanoscience. An extensive collection of recommended references on topics in nanoscience has been developed that can be further developed into course materials and activities. In addition, as part of this project, a small working group of experts in nanoscience developed a review article for the journal Science on the occurrence and impact of nanomaterials within the Earth system, and this website is an educational companion to this article. Evaluation of the website is providing insight into how users utilize the resources and content provided. The authors seek additional feedback on how the website can be effectively integrated into Geoscience courses across the curriculum. Explore the site at: https://serc.carleton.edu/msu_nanotech/index.html
Using effective education strategies to guide curriculum changes in the Environmental Sciences program at the University of Texas at El Paso: lessons learned
Lixin Jin, University of Texas at El Paso
Vanessa L Lougheed, University of Texas at El Paso
Elizabeth Walsh, University of Texas at El Paso
Diane Doser, University of Texas at El Paso
Guadalupe Corral, University of Texas at El Paso
We revised the curriculum for the Environmental Sciences undergraduate program at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), with support of grants from the Department of Education MSEIP and NSF-IUSE programs, to increase recruitment, retention and graduation rates. During these curriculum changes, critical gaps were filled in the degree sequence, and more importantly, we implemented educational strategies to better prepare these underrepresented students for future STEM careers. Specifically, an innovative and interdisciplinary stratified mentoring approach was used to support and retain Hispanic students throughout their college years. The team that would guide these students included peers through a learning community at the freshman level, seniors and graduate students at the sophomore level, and then multiple faculty from UTEP, and professionals from federal, state and local agencies, industry, private sectors, and academia at junior and senior levels. Thus the team was vertically stratified, with individuals with different levels of expertise, and horizontally stratified, with individuals from multiple disciplines, having different career paths and working in different sectors. In addition, students were immersed into experiential learning through team projects, individual research, summer internships, and service learning. Various methods were used to assess how the program activities impacted student participants, including pre- and post-surveys, and a revised version of the Undergraduate Student Self-Assessment (URSSA). Collectively, the student enrollment in the program has increased and retention rate has doubled. The evaluations showed improvements in students' confidence in specific technical skills, and professional and soft skills, students' awareness of and interests in solving environmental issues that are locally, regionally and globally important, and students' self-identity as an environmental scientist and attitudes towards STEM careers. We will discuss motivation, design, implementation, struggles and lessons learned from these curricular changes, and also adaptation of this curriculum by other minority serving institutions.
Promoting Student Understanding of the Earth's Climate through Model-based Learning in Secondary Geo-Science Classrooms
Devarati Bhattacharya, Central Washington University
Kimberly Carroll Steward, University of Nebraska at Lincoln
Cory Forbes, The University of Texas at Arlington
Mark Chandler, Auburn University Main Campus
Learning about Earth's climate system and global climate change (GCC) is critical and has gained impetus with the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States, 2013). One approach to cultivate effective, climate-focused learning environments is emphasizing the practices of climate scientists through the use of climate models in instruction.However, creating a learning environment where students use models productively to understand climate-related concepts is challenging. To address this need, we are engaged in a 4-year, NSF-funded project to develop, implement, and test a 3-week curriculum module designed around an online, computer-based NASA global climate model, grounded in theoretical framework for scientific modeling. We present data collected during Year 1 implementation of the module in two 9th-grade geoscience classrooms. Students' knowledge about GCC (N=298), revealed significant difference in general concepts related to Earth's climate (M=13.65, SD=4.4) and those based on data-based evidence for GCC (M=14.54, SD=4.87), in both the pre-unit assessment, t (298) =44, p<0.001, and post-unit assessment, t (298) =39.8, p<0.001. Through a comparison of simulations representing stable and predicted Earth's climate, students were able to correlate atmospheric carbon dioxide gas levels and average surface temperatures in the Earth's atmosphere.They were also able to create scientific visualizations for depicting scenarios of past, present, and future Earth's changing climate. We observed that students' engagement was not just restricted to data-based exploration with EzGCM. They were simultaneously immersed in learning about the methods, vocabulary, and concepts specific to climate modeling. Additionally, using a model-based framework further helped students in formulating, evaluating, justifying and communicating their own scientific claims about the Earth's climate. Findings from this study have important implications for our ongoing efforts to refine the curriculum module and support teachers, as well as the field's understanding of teaching and learning about Earth's climate system and GCC.
A Low Cost Affordable Science Inquiry-Based Curricula for Elementary and Middle School Age Youth
Porche Spence, North Carolina Central University
Tonya Gerald-Goins, North Carolina Central University
Kimberly Weems, Ph.D., North Carolina Central University
Caesar Jackson, Ph.D., North Carolina Central University
Gregory Goins, North Carolina A & T State University
The Diverse and Integrative STEM Continua Using Socio-environmental Systems In and Out of Neighborhoods (DISCUSSION) network, is an educational alliance, led by two historical black colleges and universities (North Carolina A&T State University (NCA&T) and North Carolina Central University (NCCU))and in close partnership with community colleges and other organization, to increase the number of prepared, motivated underrepresented students attaining careers in STEM by creating a sustained outcome-driven process of science education. A goal of the DISCUSSION network is to develop and disseminate low-cost inquiry-based science learning materials that positively impacts scientific literacy, retention, and quantitative skills, and to access underserved groups to broaden participation in STEM across socio-economic barriers. A Food, Energy, Water Nexus Learning Modules (FEWLM), an interdisciplinary STEM prototypical curriculum built on Next Generation Science Standards learning objectives, systems thinking and informed engineering design pedagogy, was developed and implemented to provide low-cost inquiry-based science learning materials for formal and informal learning. These STEM workbooks provide hands-on, self-driven and team-building activities with the intent of educating elementary and middle school age youth on the importance of science, increasing their excitement about science and attempting to increase their scientific exposure and awareness about environmental sustainability and human health issues. We piloted FEWLM in the 3rd- 5th grade class at the John Avery Boys and Girls Club of Durham and Orange Counties (BGCDOC) after school program and DISCUSSION "hydrophonics" summer enrichment camp for middle school age youth. Interest and attitudes regarding science and career ambitions were measured using pre-post surveys. Overall, participants reported that FEWLM helped them understand science better; became more confidence to succeed in science and made them decide to work harder in school. Furthermore, participants from the BGCDOC and the DISCUSSION "hydrophonics" enrichment summer camp would recommend educational outreach programs using the FEWLM curricula to their friends.
Using the Paleobiology Database with Preservice Teachers and Middle School Students to Address the Next Generation Science Standards
Peggy McNeal, Towson University
As a rich data source of paleontological data, the Paleobiology Data Base (PBDB) was used in lessons with preservice teachers and middle school students to address the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). First, three lessons that are part of the Teach the Earth collection and hosted on the SERC website were identified as appropriate lessons for two Earth and Space Science classes taught to elementary education majors at a large eastern university. These lessons, all involving analysis of PBDB data, aligned with the current curriculum and focused on three aspects of the NGSS for K-8 students, the population of students that the preservice teachers are preparing to teach. First, the lessons addressed NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas aligning with Earth and Space Science content. Second, the lessons were especially well-suited for instructing the preservice teachers in three NGSS Science and Engineering Practices: 1) Analyzing and Interpreting Data, 2) Constructing Explanations, and 3) Designing Solutions, and Engaging in Argument from Evidence. Finally, the lessons exhibited the nature of two Crosscutting Concepts: 1) Patterns, and 2) Scale, Proportion, and Quantity. After successfully using the PBDB to enhance these preservice teachers' experience with Earth Science content and the NGSS, the lessons were modified using lessons learned and repeated during a second semester. Additionally, the lessons were adapted for use in an eighth-grade middle school classroom. Working with an eighth-grade science teacher on the west coast, the lessons were used to teach the same NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas, address aligning Science and Engineering Practices, and provide practice with Crosscutting Concepts. We found the PBDB an exceptionally effective and exciting resource to use with both populations and one that provides an opportunity to use authentic data for addressing multiple aspects of the NGSS. This presentation will share experiences and lessons learned.
A New Climate Science Curriculum: Proposed Bachelor of Science degree in Climatology at SUNY Oneonta
Christopher Karmosky, SUNY College at Oneonta
Melissa Godek, SUNY College at Oneonta
In this work, we present a novel curriculum for a four-year Bachelor of Science degree in Climatology that has been proposed at SUNY Oneonta. The observable effects of climate change and the debate about what should be done to mitigate these effects have prompted a need for climate literacy among a broad section of the population. However, the field of climatology has traditionally been relegated to upper-division coursework within a department of meteorology, geography and/or geosciences or to graduate programs. Course prerequisites and the upper division designation pose barriers to students looking to gain introductory-level experience with climatology. We have developed an introduction to climatology course, without prerequisites, focusing on themes of energy, water, wind, and the interaction between the land surface and the atmosphere. It is anticipated that the introductory climatology class within the broader curriculum will become a general education course to attract non-majors. For those students looking to immerse themselves more fully in the field of climatology, a four year curriculum has been developed using a mixture of new climatology courses and existing meteorology and geography courses. While SUNY Oneonta would not be offering the first climate-related bachelor's degree in the US, other bachelors-level programs in climate focus more on policy or are tracks within majors in geography or meteorology. This curriculum was developed without the need for new faculty and is currently awaiting approval by state and university administration.
Teaching Geologic Time – Current Practices and Understanding
Elisabeth Ervin-Blankenheim, Front Range Community College
Geologic time is a fundamental concept in the geosciences, but research shows that a gap exists between what students are taught about geologic time and the actual time scale of the Earth. The literature further indicates that instructors are not given adequate tools to teach geologic time as part of their training. One set of traditional teaching methods has focused on the use of metaphors to explain the timescale, entailing techniques such as to counting off the geologic eons, eras and periods on the face of a classic 24-hour clock. Laying out the timescale proportionally on a sidewalk or an outside area is another illustration. A different instructional approach involves rote learning and memorization of critical events. These ways of teaching, through metaphors and memorization, pose challenges for understanding because students may not grasp them readily or find them relevant to their lives. Further barriers to student learning include the great length of geologic time relative to the human lifespan, the use of exponential numbers and ratios for the timescale, and religious and social preconceptions. What is the current understanding in the literature about teaching geologic time? A meta-analysis of techniques, presently employed, is explored. Then the question is asked, are there other ways to teach geologic time? Having a grasp of the timescale of geology is vital in understanding the human role on the planet in light of critical climate change and environmental challenges. The timescale of the Earth provides both a context to situate all life and an understanding of how the Earth works through its processes, including climatic events from the geological past.
Developing Field Experiences at a 2YC: Field Studies Courses at Orange Coast College
Christopher Berg, Orange Coast College
Erik Bender, Orange Coast College
Michael Van Ry, Orange Coast College
Orange Coast College is a 2YC in Orange County, California. Within a six hour's drive from campus, one can experience diverse geologic settings, including multiple iconic national park landscapes. As part of an effort to increase student enrollment and raise the visibility of the Geology program on campus which began in Fall 2016, a series of field-based courses have been developed and are in the process of being implemented into the Geology program at OCC. Each course, which has no formal prerequisites, is directly transferrable into four-year universities within the state of California. Both Geology majors and non-science majors are eligible to take the courses for credit. Field courses are generally structured to include several pre-trip meetings that cover logistics, procedures for completing geologic investigations in the field, and short lectures and lab-based activities providing necessary geologic overview and background; post-trip meetings focus on assessments and summaries of observations typically in the form of short presentations or papers. Field courses that have already been implemented include Field Studies of Death Valley, Field Studies of the Mojave Desert, Field Studies of the San Andreas Fault, Field Studies of Yosemite National Park, and Field Studies of the Eastern Sierra Nevada. Based on the early successes with these courses, additional planned field study courses include the Cascades, Hawaii Volcanology (in collaboration with the Marine Science department), and the Colorado Plateau. These extended field courses will be offered during Summer or Winter intersession terms. For students that are majoring in geology or a related science, a more rigorous Introduction to Field Studies course is being developed. Together, the field courses are expected to become an advertising point for the program, provide unique experiences to our students, and help build a stronger cohort of students within the major.
Exploring Earth's Atmosphere and Oceans Using the Fluid Earth Viewer
Jason Cervenec, Ohio State University-Main Campus
Aaron Wilson, Ohio State University-Main Campus
Using open-source code and publicly available atmospheric and ocean model data sets, a team at The Ohio State University created the Fluid Earth Viewer (FEV), an interactive, intuitive, and visually appealing web tool that allows users to explore current and past conditions of our planet's atmosphere and oceans. Building on extensive user-testing with audiences that included undergraduate students, middle school students and the general public, FEV serves as a vehicle of modern Earth science communication, making complex data accessible and engaging in both informal and formal education settings. A description of the interdisciplinary project team, user testing process, user testing data, and insights that were gleaned during the project will be presented. Beyond showcasing how FEV is readily expandable to include additional data sets, the presenter is interested in brainstorming collaborations with new partners and exploring novel applications of the tool for learners of all ages. FEV is accessible online at fever.bpcrc.osu.edu.
The Advantages of Unstructured Time: Insight from Academic Field Trips
Eric Goldfarb, The University of Texas at Austin
Kathy Ellins, The University of Texas at Austin
Academic field programs are an essential part of geoscience education. An often overlooked benefit of field trips is time not devoted to study. On a typical trip, students, faculty, and teaching assistants spend unstructured time during road trips, meals, and free time. Students can ask questions leading to a better understanding of their academics, interests, and their peers. Educators can learn about their students' interests and learning styles. This time can be fun and beneficial. Anecdotally, students in geoscience are socially closer to their peers and professors than in other types of sciences. Field trips significantly strengthen these bonds. Field trips generally have leaders who are responsible for both logistics and education. For example, at our undergraduate field camp in the Jackson School of Geosciences, the teaching team of three faculty and three teaching assistants is responsible for student safety, meal logistics, site availability, as well as the curriculum. A different model is used with our high school program, 'GeoFORCE', an outreach program for high achieving students. In this model, instruction is delivered by a team comprising of faculty and university students. A trip coordinator oversees safety and logistics, assisted by a trail driver, and undergraduate councilors. At field camp, educators are more separated from students. Since they constantly remind students to show up on time, to dress for the weather, etc., they are seen as the "the boss", and are less approachable for non-academic exchange. In contrast, at GeoFORCE, the educators are not seen as "above" the students, but as learning facilitators. The educational team, freed from "managing" the students, can spend time for discussion and guidance. Perhaps restructuring programs to have designated logistics coordinators instead of a larger education team could allow more learning to occur while counter intuitively freeing the time of educators for their students.
Enhancing Student Learning of Global Warming through Reflective Writing
Liang Zeng, The University of Texas Rio Grande valley
Guang Zeng, Texas A & M University-Corpus Christi
Students in my Introduction to Physical Science, General Physics, and Physics for Scientists and Engineering courses are required to write a reflective essay on global warming as we covered the energy topic. They are also required to elaborate on what they can do as responsible citizens. Through this reflective writing exercise, students now learned that global warming is real and behooves us to respond immediately. Students also commented what they could do as individual responsible citizens, ranging from turning off unused electronics to making informed decisions about purchases. Educating students sustainability of the Earth in these courses is critical so that they can grow to become better stewards of the environment.
A Survey of Active Learning Techniques in a Large non-majors Environmental Science Course.
Erica Bigio, University of Nevada-Reno
Active learning is a growing theme in undergraduate education, and professors often incorporate a variety of active learning techniques into large and small courses. In a large environmental science course for non-majors, I implemented several techniques to review course concepts and increase student engagement during lectures. These included think-pair-share discussions, handouts to review concepts, along with higher-stakes group activities (6 students) aimed at interpretation of scientific data. Students also submitted answers (2 -3 sentences) to open-ended questions posed during lecture through the Learning Management Software. The questions asked students about personal views on environmental issues (e.g., land management policy, climate change impacts), but also directly assessed understanding of course content. Despite very low-stakes reward, students shared both personal anecdotes and thoughtful analysis of course content, indicating strong engagement in the material. These answers contrasted student participation in class discussions, which was limited to a few dominant talkers. Student feedback showed positive attitudes towards reflection answers and individual handouts, but were less favorable towards group activities. Limitations to all techniques included time for review and feedback, coordination between LMS and paper handouts, and a lecture auditorium that prevented movement to all students during active learning sessions.
Information Literacy Integration in an Environmental Geology Course
Racha El Kadiri, Middle Tennessee State University
Mary Ellen Sloane, Middle Tennessee State University
One of the recurring and persistent student deficiencies, especially in terms of research and critical thinking-based assignments include not recognizing the nuances and biases packaged in the information, which are recurrent in controversial environmental topics, and a lack of focus on the main research question while conducting research, a problem that increases when the students are asked to define their own research questions. In this project, a partnership was built between an environmental geology instructor and a science librarian at Middle Tennessee State University to address these deficiencies in an upper division undergraduate course. The students were exposed to information literacy concepts and tools and were given the opportunity to practice them in a semester-long project. The integration of information literacy was conducted through lectures and handouts about information literacy by the science librarian and a semester research project. The latter is the core of the integration, and it allowed the students to practice the concepts and tools firsthand. The students were requested to select a debatable environmental topic that has no clear consensus within the general public (e.g. fracking, carbon tax, overpopulation/environmental sustainability). Then the students were assigned to do research about the opposing views and dissect the flaws, facts, and uncertainties in each argument, as well as search for the underlying scientific theories and formulate these concepts in ways that can be understood by a general public audience. Finally the students were required to prepare a poster to be presented for a general audience. At the end of the course, a poster session was organized on Earth day and was opened to the public in which the students presented the final versions of their semester projects. Integrating information literacy into the environmental geology course was a step toward educating the students on information literacy for optimal life-long learning and an appreciation of how these skills could assist them in their future careers, along with developing an understanding of the impact that information has on society and our lives.
Professional Development for Undergraduate Students, Graduate Students and Faculty
Implementing the STAR Legacy Cycle to Promote Student-Centered Field Learning in the GeoFORCE/STEMFORCE 12th Grade Summer Academy
Enrique Reyes, The University of Texas at Austin
Kathy Ellins, The University of Texas at Austin
GeoFORCE and STEMFORCE are two summer enrichment programs offered by the University of Texas' Jackson School of Geoscience. These two programs aim to increase the number of high school students from diverse backgrounds who pursue a degree in the geosciences or STEM-related fields. To better align to the rigor of STEM-related coursework, we have developed and implemented a new capstone experience, first piloted in 2017 with 120 rising high school seniors in the GeoFORCE and STEMFORCE cohorts. The curriculum developed for this approach follows the STAR Legacy Cycle, a challenge-based approach that drives learning by integrating the scientific process and a products-based assessment. The products students are expected to create include a conference-style poster, a 12-minute technical presentation, and a 4-minute "lightning-talk" geared towards a general audience. Teams of 4-6 students assume the roles of geoscientists to solve the "Central Texas Challenge", a real-world problem which challenges students to consider the real-world implications of research and innovation. Students solve the challenge by combining geologic field observations and independent research, using technology and engaging activities that create an awareness of geoscience careers. The instructional team consists of two expert geoscientists (faculty and PhD students), a master teacher, and three undergraduate students to facilitate the learning experiences in the field and the classroom. Educational research and post-trip student evaluations indicate that the STAR Legacy Cycle-based curriculum is an improvement over previously applied GeoFORCE curriculum. Students initiallly struggle to adapt to self-directed learning, but evaluated the curriculum to be more enjoyable due to the rigor and content of the deliverables. Students report that this approach encourages college-readiness skills that need to be practiced: time management, note-taking, group assignments, professional presentations, and written/visual communication. Finally, students reported increased motivation to take on new challenges and seek new opportunities given their success through this experience.
Assessing Geoscience Career Awareness Among Undergraduates
Claire Harrigan, Whitman College
Karen Viskupic, Boise State University
One measure of the success of an undergraduate geoscience program is how well its students are prepared for careers in the geosciences. As departments work to prepare undergraduates for the workforce, a method for evaluating students' understanding of, and preparedness for, geoscience careers could help guide department activities and interventions. We developed an instrument (online survey) that evaluates students' career plans and utilization of resources related to learning about, preparing for, and finding a job. Questions ask students to identify careers of interest, reflect on the skills they need to be successful in their future career, and describe what they need to do to acquire those skills. With only minor modifications, this instrument can be used in any department to evaluate students' perceptions about potential career options. When deployed over multiple semesters and at different stages of program completion, the instrument can be used to evaluate the efficacy of career preparation interventions. We surveyed 100 undergraduate geoscience majors at a public 4-year university. The results represent the state of students' career awareness prior to any career planning interventions. We compare the results for students at different stages in the program and demonstrate that students who have taken more geoscience courses have more specific career goals than students at in the beginning stages of completing the requirements for the major. We also show that first generation students are more likely to utilize institution-related resources like a career center than non-first generation students who are more likely to use their friends and family as a career resource.
Project EDDIE: Supporting Teaching Quantitative Reasoning Using Large Data Sets
Andrew Haveles, University of Wisconsin-River Falls
Ellen Altermatt, Carleton College
Susan Eriksson, Eriksson Associates
Kristin O'Connell, Carleton College
Ellen Iverson, Carleton College
Cailin Huyck Orr, Carleton College
Catherine O'Reilly, Illinois State University
Dax Soule, CUNY City College
Rebekka Darner, Illinois State University
Thomas Meixner, The University of Arizona
The increasing availability and wealth of large, environmental datasets creates new opportunities to teach scientific concepts and quantitative reasoning with these data. Project EDDIE (Environmental Data-Driven Inquiry and Exploration) is a suite of NSF funded projects focused on developing an expanding community of instructors able to effectively use and develop materials that prepare students to utilize large datasets and apply their own quantitative analysis of large datasets to support scientific argumentation. Project EDDIE aims to develop a self-sustaining community of instructors engaged with materials and professional development designed to foster pedagogical orientation favoring open inquiry with large datasets. The community will build a shared vision for change that starts with understanding the perceived gap between instructor needs and the existing resources available to support them in their teaching. In spring 2019 we held four webinars and a 40 person workshop that together aimed to inform and develop a community vision regarding best practices and strategies for improving the teaching of quantitative reasoning using data in the classroom. Responses from participants indicate an overall need for pedagogical tools that enrich learning environments and provide opportunities for major and non-major students to develop their quantitative reasoning and data-driven inquiry skills. Findings from the webinars and workshops are currently informing the design, development, and implementation of future Project EDDIE curricular modules and professional development opportunities, including the upcoming Teaching Module Design and Development Workshop (https://serc.carleton.edu/216830). Each module will focus on specific scientific concepts and address a set of quantitative reasoning or analytical skills, using high-frequency datasets that are publicly available online. Workshop attendees will include faculty members from different disciplines and institution types.